HCNSO Student Theses and Dissertations

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Defense Date


Document Type

Thesis - NSU Access Only


Oceanographic Center

First Advisor

Curtis Burney

Second Advisor

Richard E. Dodge

Third Advisor

Patricia Blackwelder

Fourth Advisor

Shaila R. Cummings


Batch cultures of Fayella panamenis were pulse fed Heterocapsa triquetra at concentrations ranging from 200 to 3,000 cells/ml. The digestion process was followed using both bright field and epifluoresence microscopy for live and fixed ciliates. Ingestion rates, vacuole passage times, and the time required for complete digestion of vacuolar contents were determined during pulse feeding experiments. Findings indicate the following. 1) The digestion rate of Favella panamenis begins to saturate at 2,000-2,500 Heterocapsa/ml. The ingestion rate increases over the range of Heterocapsa/ml studied (200 to 3,000 cells/ml). 2) Each ciliate could fully digest ≤ 3 Heterocapsa simultaneously. If the cell ingested ≥ 4 Heterocapsa at one feeding, the food items were excreted partially digested. Ingestion of ≥ 3 Heterocapsa per ciliate began at an initial food concentration of 2,500 Heterocapsa/ml.

The results suggests that the rate of digestive enzyme production may limit the transfer of energy through microbial food webs under food saturating or bloom conditions. This may ultimately decrease growth efficiencies at high feeding rates, which then must be considered in energy and carbon flow calculations.

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